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HEALTH CENTER WINS GRANT TO DEVELOP SELF-MANAGEMENT PROGRAM FOR ASTHMA PATIENTS

 BOSTON, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Neighborhood Health Plan, a non- profit health maintenance organization (HMO), today awarded a $25,000 grant to Great Brook Valley Health Center, Worcester, to develop a program for asthma intervention and case management.
 Great Brook Valley competed for the Neighborhood Health Plan (NHP) grant with 13 other community health center applicants across the state. The grant is the first awarded by the HMO as part of its new Primary Care Outreach Program which helps community health centers get the resources and skills they need to develop innovative programs to manage their patients' care.
 Asthma Is A Prevalent Diagnosis
 "We were particularly excited by the promise of this program because asthma is one of Neighborhood Health Plan's most common and costly diagnoses," said NHP Chief Executive Officer Jay Harrington.
 Eight percent of NHP's 40,000 members across Massachusetts have been identified as asthmatic. In 1992, Great Brook Valley Health Center (GBVHC) cared for a total of 524 patients (including 149 NHP members) with asthma, which is GBVHC's fourth most prevalent diagnoses.
 Asthma patients typically have high rates of emergency room visits, hospitalization and outpatient care. The Great Brook Valley program will seek to reduce use of expensive medical services by asthmatics through case management and patient education.
 If the Great Brook Valley asthma management model is successful, NHP hopes to replicate it at other NHP-participating health centers across Massachusetts.
 Evidence That Intervention Can Reduce Use Of Medical Services
 Previous studies undertaken by Great Brook Valley Health Center indicate that helping asthma patients manage their own care can have dramatic results. In 1990, a group of severely asthmatic GBVHC patients who were given home nebulizers (a medication inhaler) had one third as many health center visits as they had before receiving the nebulizers. Also, those who regularly took their medication had half as many emergency room visits as those who were defined as "non-compliant" (not taking medication regularly or running out of medication).
 A more recent informal study found that Great Brook Valley Medicaid patients who were members of NHP had fewer health center visits than Great Brook Valley Medicaid patients who were not NHP members. The health center concluded that the major reason for the difference was NHP's policy of allowing members to purchase, rather than rent, home nebulizers. Medicaid patients who had not chosen NHP as their HMO were permitted by Medicaid rules only to rent the nebulizers.
 Bilingual Nurse Case Manager
 "The cornerstone of the program will be a nurse who is expert in asthma management and fluent in Spanish," said Leah Picardi Gallivan, associate director for programs at Great Brook Valley Health Center, where more than one third of the clients speak Spanish only.
 Gallivan said that the nurse will help patients and/or their parents (roughly half of NHP's members with asthma are under 10 years old) learn to identify the causes and signs of asthma attacks, use inhalants properly, recognize and, whenever possible, eliminate aggravating environmental factors such as certain household cleaners. She or he will follow up with patients after every asthma-related emergency room visit or hospitalization to teach or reinforce important self-management skills and help prevent future episodes. The nurse will see patients in their homes as well as at the Great Brook Valley facility.
 Established in 1986, Neighborhood Health Plan has more than 40,000 members (including 1,650 at Great Brook Valley Health Center). NHP contracts for primary care with 60 participating health centers and, for specialty and inpatient care, with 2,500 specialists and 40 hospitals across the state.
 Great Brook Valley Health Center provides comprehensive health services, including medical, dental, mental health, nutrition, and social services. The health center has been recognized for its work in a variety of public health efforts, particularly immunization for children, innovative programming aimed at substance abuse, and focused activities to increase community involvement in the prevention of breast cancer, violence and HIV infection.
 -0- 9/1/93
 /CONTACT: Harry Castleman of Neighborhood Health Plan, 800-433-5556 or 617-772-5660/


CO: Neighborhood Health Plan ST: Massachusetts IN: HEA SU:

JL-DJ -- NE003 -- 7847 09/01/93 10:03 EDT
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Date:Sep 1, 1993
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